10 challenges you need to overcome to ensure your transformation is successful

Digital Transformation is often seen by business leaders as a potential high cost and risk. And with a study from Boston Consulting Group suggesting that nearly 70% of digital transformation efforts fail, no wonder it can be daunting.But this does not need to be the case. You can spread both the risk and cost by creating phases while keeping an eye on the strategic big picture. Digital transformation puts technology at the core of the business strategy. Done well and this approach can generate a 20-30% increase in customer satisfaction and economic gains of 20-50%, reduce operating expenses and reduce inefficiency. In a recession such as we are seeing right now, inefficiency and staff shortages and the impact on revenue must be at the forefront for all business leaders.

In this first of a series of Unify.Agency articles, we discuss 10 challenges you are likely to encounter and what action you can take to overcome them.

  1. Executive buy in – Simply put with no executive buy in your transformation  will not succeed.

    Solution: Identify your key stakeholders and ensure they have the right level of influence in the business.  Note, not all of your key stakeholders will be execs but you will need that exec buy in to succeed.

  2. Resistance to change – Very often users can feel that change is a threat.  Some companies I have worked with have key staff who cause a massive disruption to the business. Very often they have created an industry whereby they are seen as the “oracle” for a particular function and won’t let anyone in.

    Solution: In these situations you need to identify this behaviour early in the process and welcome some of the detractors into the project, tapping their knowledge and making them feel valued and part of the transformation. Show them how the transformation will support them. Shut them out at your peril!

  3. Trust – Many projects fail because of a mistrust of the IT team. It goes without saying that IT has a hard enough job. When anything goes wrong IT will usually be the first port of call and often get the blame. Many teams I have worked with are very suspicious of IT, not least because they question “What does IT know about marketing”, “What does IT know about sales?”. It’s so important to include stakeholders from each department into your project to get them to buy into it.

    Solution: Use the stakeholder sessions to show that you are receptive and even when you think you know more than your stakeholders, be very open and consultative rather than take a “you don’t know what you are talking about!” stance.  However, be firm and make it very clear that if they want to be involved with the project they will need to make the time to attend regular update sessions and provide regular feedback.  Your stakeholders need to be open to change and make a firm commitment to change.

  4. Transformation as an island – If one team is seen to own the transformation there is a big risk that other teams will feel left out which will impact user adoption and can bring down such a project.

    Solution: As with point 3 above, and a lack of trust. Identify your key stakeholders and make them inclusive.  The skill here is to ensure they feel part of the transformation team.

  5. Visibility – A successful transformation should make many aspects of the business more visible.  Pulling information together into dashboards enabling teams and the executive team to easily monitor company performance in real time is a must.  Transparency and consistent reporting can be a concern to some yet it is crucial for any business to succeed.

    Solution: This is not always easy and you may need help to show that transparency is beneficial and not a threat.  This is where it’s invaluable to bring in a consultant who can see the bigger picture and has a great deal of experience working with multiple teams, with many different needs, and across different areas of the business.

  6. Being overwhelmed – It is easy to only see the big picture and become overwhelmed by the potential size of a transformation project.  So focus on the now but keep an eye on the future.

    Solution: Start by reviewing the top three challenges in the business, make sure you understand them and then simplify each of them.  Demonstrate how you can achieve success for each by making the needs very clear, demonstrate how they can be deliverable and then use a continuous delivery model reviewing how each challenge has been addressed.  I have worked on projects across a multi global sales team who needed access to their CRM using mobile so they could update meetings and respond to sales in real time.  The CRM project I implemented as part of a wider transformation included a mobile app out of the box and with some minor configuration was delivered.

  7. User adoption – User adoption is probably the most important part of rolling out new systems.

    Solution: One solution is to remove legacy system access so users run on the new system and not in parallel with the legacy system.  Encourage and be open to feedback and be agile enough to make tweaks and changes to support them.

  8. Transparency – It’s so very important that you keep your stakeholders and users updated on project progress.

    Solution: Commit to a cadence of “show & tell sessions” through live or project progress webinars.  Having delivered projects across many time zones. It’s also very important to record each session to ensure all your users are included.  Open feedback loops so your users can ask questions and make suggestions.

  9. Deliver, deliver, deliver – Make sure you meet user expectations and deliver, preferably deliver earlier than anticipated.

    Solution: It’s easy to underpromise and over deliver but a well planned project will allow you to deliver that bit extra with each release.  Executives and senior stakeholders will want  to know that their investment is delivering results.  Trickle feed updates and new features through your regular online comms channels (Slack, Messenger, Teams)

  10. Project futures –  Don’t be afraid to share your transformation project roadmap.  You need to keep the future in your sights.  Needs change and your transformation project will change.

    Solution: Share your project roadmap, seek feedback and encourage votes on ideas for your roadmap to ensure you are keeping up with changes that are relevant to the business vision.

There is no silver bullet for digital transformation – and there is no one-size-fits-all approach for every company. Each organisation must create a unique strategy based on its industry, market position, competitive pressures and customer demands. With the right road map, digital transformation can help technology be a primary driver of business innovation and growth. When combined with a greater focus on communication, cross-functional collaboration and exponential talent, any business can truly transform itself. Unify agency can build you a “roadmap for success” to will ensure your digital transformation optimises your business with actionable outcomes and streamlined operations.


Sounds good? This is where Unify agency can help. Our team of Unify agency transformation and data experts are highly experienced in working with large organisations where you have different teams with very different needs. Unify agency’s mission is to provide the missing link between disconnected systems and data to connect your systems, users and customers and deliver actionable outcomes.